Have you ever dreamt of climbing to the very top of your chosen motorsport and beating the world’s best? That’s exactly what Hayden Paddon, this week’s podcast guest, has done. As a past WRC round winner and current European Rally Champion, Hayden is a wealth of knowledge on all things rally, and spends some time in this episode talking through us through what life is like at the highest levels of the sport, what the future of rally might look like, and much more.
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Born in a little town in the South Island of New Zealand, Hayden Paddon was introduced to the world of motorsport early thanks to his rally-driving father. Racing karts and rally events growing up, Hayden went from strength to strength before claiming the first of five national rally titles in 2008. Hayden then burst onto the world stage, becoming the PWRC world champion in 2011, and soon found his way into the big leagues with the factory Hyundai WRC team, claiming a hard-fought win in 2016’s Rally of Argentina.
For any driver outside of Europe to get a seat in a factory WRC team is impressive — let alone a round win. It sounds like a fairytale, but the reality is of course very different — it’s been far from all rainbows and unicorns, and Hayden opens up in this episode about just how hard the journey to the top is. And then staying there? Well that’s even harder still.
Hayden talks us through the various machinations, politics, and extreme levels of pressure at this elite level of motorsport — and this includes some really good advice around getting and, more importantly, keeping sponsors.
These days, when he’s not dominating the European Rally Championship, recently becoming the first non-European to win it, Hayden spends as much time back home in New Zealand as possible, developing his own take on the possible future of the sport in his Hyundai Kona EV rally weapon. Hayden breaks down the build, explaining how it all works and what advantages and disadvantages an electric vehicle has over the traditional ICE-powered rally car.
This episode provides a fantastic look inside the world of WRC, covering everything from the insane stress of leading a rally with a seven-time world champion only two seconds behind, to how a co-driver and driver relationship actually works, and much more.
*NOTE* At the time of recording, Hayden was yet to secure this year’s European Rally Championship.
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Follow Hayden here:
FB: Hayden Paddon